Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Microsoft Gets Nostalgic for the 1990s as It Reports Today How Its Future Is Looking

Yesterday, Microsoft released an unusually thoughtful and quirky video titled “Child of the 90s,” part of a marketing campaign called “The Browser You Loved to Hate” for Internet Explorer (which was born then).

The ad copy reads: “You grew up. So did we.”

It’s all very retro hipster, as you can see from the video posted below. But later today, when it reports its second-quarter earnings after the markets close, Wall Street will want to see a lot more about what the future brings for Microsoft than just a rumination on trolls and fanny packs.

In other words, while 1995 was a very good year for Microsoft, it was a long time ago in another galaxy, far, far away.

In fact, the results today are likely to be a very important bellwether, since they are the first that will reflect the impact of the fall launch of Windows 8 and also Microsoft’s splashy Surface tablet.

Microsoft has a lot riding on the success of both — along with a lot of money — which is why analysts seem a bit worried about what the software giant will report after the markets close.

Earnings estimates for the three-month period ended in December are now at 75 cents, down from 90 cents earlier this year. That compares to 78 cents in the same quarter a year ago. The overall revenue estimate for the quarter is $21.6 billion.

There are several important reasons for the concern, including whether Microsoft is selling enough of its key new product — it has said that there have been 60 million licenses or upgrades sold for Windows 8, which is substantial but not gangbusters — and how badly the continuing decline in PC sales have impacted the company.

Microsoft might be trying to address that issue with the recent news that it might be an investor in an attempt to take Dell private.

In addition, investors will be looking for more information about the sales of the Surface, which one analyst is estimating are at one million — again, not bad, but not fantastic, either.

Perhaps that is what is behind the 5.7 percent drop in Microsoft stock over the last six months, compared to a 20.5 percent rise in Google’s shares. While Microsoft stock is up 3.4 percent since the beginning of the year, it’s still trading in a way that does not suggest much investor enthusiasm at all.

Whether that can be turned around over the next few quarters will be interesting to watch, but not as entertaining as this video:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald